Hot Rod Movies

Please note that all synopses and reviews are courtesy of Ron Main, The Video Beat!, and IMDb.

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1925 – The Speed Demon

THE SPEED DEMON: In order to obtain the prize filly of Warren, a hospitable and unsuspecting Kentucky colonel, a New York racetrack shark wins the old man’s confidence and is invited by him to stay in the family mansion. The plans of the tout are spoiled by Speed Sherman, a Yankee racing driver, who protects the colonel’s filly and marries his daughter, Enid.

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1932 – The Crowd Roars

THE CROWD ROARS: Motor racing champion Joe Greer (James Cagney) returns home to compete in a local race. His younger brother has aspirations of becoming a champion. During the race, Joe loses his nerve when another driver is killed allowing his brother to win. Joe’s career plummets as his brother rises.

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1941 – The Blonde Comet

THE BLONDE COMET: Blonde Comet: Female European race car champion Betty Blake (Vale) decides to head to America for new challenges. Betty finds her fiercest rival in America is handsome driver Jim Flynn (Kent), who is attempting to design and build a new race car carburetor. Things are complicated by the efforts of an unkown villain who keeps attempting to sabotage Jim’s invention, and the burgeoning romance between Jim and Betty. Veteran race-car driver of the day Barney Oldfield appears as himself in the film.

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1947 – The Devil On Wheels

THE DEVIL ON WHEELS: U.S. film. Darryl Hickman, older brother of Duane “Dobie Gillis” Hickman, stars in this juvenile delinquent film about teenagers who hold illegal drag-races, often leading to death and police involvement. A teenager takes to the streets racing hot rods and getting into trouble after being “inspired” by his father’s reckless driving habits. Great hot rod footage! The hip lingo is marvelous! The atmospheric use of light and shadow give the film a cool hard-boiled edge. Darryl Hickman, Noreen Nash, Sue England, James B. Cardwell, William Forrest, Robert Arthur, Janice Ford, Lenita Love, Damian O’Flynn, Terry Moore.

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1949 – The Big Wheel

THE BIG WHEEL: U.S. film. Mickey Rooney plays a garage mechanic who becomes a champion race-car driver. On the way to the top, he steps on friends and foes alike. The cocky driver eventually kills another racer when he forgets that gas and alcohol don’t mix. Cool hot rod scenes of the late ’40s California racing circuit. The climax blends stock footage of the Indianapolis 500 with then-new racing sequences. Mickey Rooney, Thomas Mitchell, Michael O’Shea, Spring Byington, Mary Hatcher, Steve Brodie, Allen Jenkins, Dick Lane

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1950 – Hot Rod

HOT ROD: David Langham (James Lydon), the youngest son of a hot-rod hating father, Judge Langham (Art Baker), buys an old jalopy but, out of respect for his father, doesn’t convert it. He changes his mind when Jack Blodgett (Tommy Bond), the local speed demon, impresses David’s girl, Janie Pitts (Gloria Winters), and David makes his car the fastest in town. Jack steals David’s hot rod, and flees the scene of an accident he causes. The car is traced back to David, but the truth comes out in court, although David’s father is still unhappy about the car…until David and his friend, Swifty Johnson (Gil Stratton Jr.), use it to apprehend some escaping robbers. The Judge decides to back a movement for building a hot-rod race track for the town.

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1953 – Jalopy

JALOPY: Leo Gorcey, Huntz hall. The Bowery Boys use a secret rocket fuel that makes their Model-T Ford unbeatable. Filmed at Culver Speedway with real drivers George Dockstader, Fred Lamount, Harvey Perry, Louis Tomei, Dude Criswell, Dick Crockett, Pete Kellett, and Carey Loftin.

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1953 – Heights Of Danger

HEIGHTS OF DANGER: Basil Appleby, Freda Bamford. A British man competes in an Alpine auto race to save his family garage.

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1954 – The Fast And The Furious

THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: U.S. film. Hot rods, hot babes and crooks! A convicted murderer breaks out of prison, takes a cute kitten hostage and swipes a hot rod! The female hostage takes a liking to the crook. Soon the two are on the run together, lovers and fugitives using the cover of a hot rod road rally as a front so they can get to the border and freedom. John Ireland, Dorothy Malone, Bruno VeSota, Bruce Carlisle, Marshall Bradford, Jean Howell, Robin Morse. First film released by American Releasing Corporation—which later became American International Pictures (A.I.P.)

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1954 – The Wild One

THE WILD ONE: In one of his most famous roles, Brando stars as the head of a savage motorcycle gang which terrorizes a small town. He gets his first real chance at a normal and productive life when he falls in love with a young woman who lives there, but a psychotic rival to his position as leader threatens everything

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1955 – Running Wild

RUNNING WILD: U.S. film. Bill Haley and The Comets rock on the soundtrack. A rookie cop infiltrates a teenage car theft gang. The cop saves a pretty chick from being ravaged and wins the love of a voluptuous blonde bombshell!

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1956 – Hot Rod Girl

HOT ROD GIRL: After his kid brother is killed in a street race, a champion drag-racer quits racing. However, a new kid comes to town determined to force him back into racing so he can take his title–and he’s already taken his girlfriend.

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1956 – Checkpoint

CHECKPOINT:Anthony Steel, James Robertson Justice, Stanley Baker. British film about a European road race driver who becomes involved illegal activities. Includes footage from the Mille Miglia, an open-road endurance race in Italy.

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1957 – Hot Rod Rumble

HOT ROD RUMBLE: U.S. film. Teens, hot rods, rock and roll, drag racing and a bit of robbery and murder. Classic footage of hot rods riding the curbs in LA! Dragstrip Girl is insatiable in her search for thrills! Chickie run on film! Winner-takes-all ending! John Ashley does an Elvis imitation! Fay Spain, Steve Terrell, John Ashley, Frank Gorshin, Russ Bender, Tommy Ivo, Judy Bamber.

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1957 – Dragstrip Girl

DRAGSTRIP GIRL: U.S. film. Teens, hot rods, rock and roll, drag racing and a bit of robbery and murder. Classic footage of hot rods riding the curbs in LA! Dragstrip Girl is insatiable in her search for thrills! Chickie run on film! Winner-takes-all ending! John Ashley does an Elvis imitation! Fay Spain, Steve Terrell, John Ashley, Frank Gorshin, Russ Bender, Tommy Ivo, Judy Bamber.

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1957 – The Devil’s Hairpin

THE DEVIL’S HAIRPIN: Cocky car racer Nick Jargin has retired since he nearly caused the death 
of his brother at a hairpin bend on a circuit. He now holds a trendy café 
who keeps him busy full time until one day, Tony Boari, a new champion 
racer, challenges him. Nick returns to competition and this time around 
he will have not only to beat his new rival but also his own demons. Kelly, 
her pretty lover, and Mrs. Jargin, his no-nonsense mother will help him to.

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1958 – Thunder Road

THUNDER ROAD:A father comes home to Tennessee from the police action in Korea to take over operation of the family moonshine making operation, but runs afoul of some gangsters who want in on the action.

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1958 – Teen Age Thunder

TEEN AGE THUNDER: U.S. film. A teenage gas station attendant is obsessed with hot rods and racing. His dad objects to hot rod racing and thinks his son is a “crazy teenager!” The teenager enters several big races—and eventually wins the BIG race! Go, crazy teenager! Yeah! Title song, “Teenage Kisses” sung by rockabilly David Houston! Revved-up youth on a thrill rampage. “Chicken is not just a word, it’s murder!” Very cool hot rod footage! Great teens and hot rods. Chuck Courtney, Robert Fuller, Tyler McVey, Paul Bryar, Helene Heigh.

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1958 – The Hot Rod Gang

THE HOT ROD GANG: U.S. film. Gene Vincent in an acting roll! Great rock and roll by Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps! Hot rods, cops, juke joints, fist fights and cute chicks. Cool footage of hot rods riding the curbs in Hollywood. The lovely and hip Kay Wheeler does her sexy “Rock n Bop” dance moves.

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1958 – Hot Car Girl

HOT CAR GIRL: U.S. film. A JD gets into trouble when he gets involved with a gang that steals car parts and then resells them on the black market to pay for their rock n roll beer parties!

Dick Bakalyan is superb in this Roger Corman teen picture with guns, girls, crime, murder and death! Bruno Ve Sota rules! Dick Bakalyan, June Kenney, John Brinkley, Robert Knapp, Jana Lund, Jack Lambert, Ed Nelson, Howard Culver, Tyler McVey, Bruno Ve Sota.

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1959 – T-Bird Gang

T-BIRD GANG: U.S. film. “Fast cars, fast girls, and no place to go!” Teen crime syndicate run by a sadist. In this delinquent teen drama, a high-schooler goes undercover and joins a teen-age gang so he can get avenge his father’s death. When his cover is blown, his life is endangered. Fortunately, the second-in-command has a change of heart and tries to help the kid. Two wrongs don’t make a right…do they? Movie soundtrack by jazz great Shelley Manne. John Brinkley, Ed Nelson, Charles Beach Dickerson, Pat George, Tony Miller, Glen Campbell, Nola Thorp.

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1959 – Speed Crazy

SPEED CRAZY: U.S. film. “From juke-joint to dragstrip, it’s the livin’ end.” A hot headed delinquent hot rodder calls all the shots! You either listen…or else! Rockabilly Slick Slavin sings “Speed Crazy” and “Ghost Town Rock.” Cool soda shop jitterbug and swing dancing. Brett Halsey, Yvonne Lime. Don’t crowd me, Joe. Yvonne Lime’s last movie

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1959 – The Ghost Of Dragstrip Hollow

THE GHOST OF DRAGSTRIP HOLLOW: U.S. film. Semi-sequel to “Hot Rod Gang”. One of the most fun of all the 1950s teen movies—it has all the necessary elements; wild rock n roll, boppin’ teens, hot rods, JDs, pajama parties, dancin’ & jivin’, a haunted house and a scary monster hop! Totally boss rockin’ tunes by The Renegades (featuring Bruce Johnston and Sandy Nelson!) Cool teen lingo! “He’s got static in his attic!” Songs include: “Geronimo,” “Charge,” Ghost Train,” “Tongue Tied,” “He’s My Guy,” and “I Promise You.” Jody Fair, Martin Braddock, Russ Bender, Leon Tyler, Elaine DuPont, Henry McCann, Sanita Pelkey, Dorothy Neumann, Tommy Ivo, Paul Blaisdell

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1959 – Girls Town

GIRLS TOWN: U.S. film. Bad girl Mamie Van Doren is sent up the river to Girls Town for a crime she didn’t commit, or did she? The marketing campaign said, “This sexually explicit, low-budget film makes no pretensions about being anything other than offensive.” Hubba Hubba! Sounds like a “must see” film! Cool hot rod race and make-out scenes. Lots of delinquent girls. Rock & roll by The Platters and Paul Anka. Mamie is hot! Mamie van Doren, Mel Torme, Ray Anthony, Elinor Donahue, Jody Fair, Jim Mitchum, Dick Contino, Norman Grabowski, Harold Lloyd, Jr., Charles Chaplin, Jr., Maggie Hayes, Cathy Lee Crosby, Gloria Talbott, Gigi Perreau, Paul Anka, The Platters.

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1964 – The Lively Set

THE LIVELY SET: U.S. film. James Darren as a Bonneville race car driver in this follow up to, “For Those Who Think Young.” Soundtrack includes the Safaris’ “Boss Barracuda.” Songs include, “The Lively Set,” “If You Love Him” and “Casey Wake Up.” A college dropout would rather play with hot rods until he meets a special girl. They get engaged and go to San Francisco where he begins to build a prototype hot rod for a millionaire. The car, a channeled ’32 roadster powered by a genuine Chevy 409 engine was quite an accomplishment in 1964! The dropout destroys the hot rod and is fired. Very cool hot rods! James Darren, Pamela Tiffin, Doug McClure, Joanie Sommers, Marilyn Maxwell, Charlie Drake. Bobby Darin composed the film music. The Lively Set!

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1966 – Hot Rod Hullabaloo

HOT ROD HULLABALOO: Despite the efforts of a citizens’ group to outlaw “hot rod” and “chicken” races, a group of teenagers is preparing for the annual demolition derby. Although he knows the event can be dangerous, a young student decides to enter the race in order to win money for his college education. His chief competitor is a ruthless young driver who has already caused a death during one of the derbies. Learning the student has entered the race, the bully decides to stop him by whatever means necessary. At the preliminaries, the student’s friend learns his rival is carrying a gun. Although the friend is run down at an amusement park, he gets word of the gun to the student’s girl friend, and a pencil is stuffed into the gun barrel just as the race begins. Attempting to use the weapon, the rival is killed. The student goes on to win the race and the prize money.

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1966 – Fireball 500

FIREBALL 500: U.S. film. Frankie, Annette and Fabian star in this cool hot rod moonshine smuggling songfest! Boss hot rods and muscle cars! Frankie and Fabian beat the heck out of each other! Tons of real stock car and racing footage. Death defying “figure 8″ racing. Rock n roll dance scene with close-ups of female derrieres in very tight pants! Rock band is Don Randi Trio plus One. Lots of songs including “Fireball 500,” “My Way,” “Step Right Up,” “Country Carnival,” “Turn Around.” Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Fabian, Chill Wills, Julie Parrish, Harvey Lembeck.